Are you sitting comfortably…
A story to share with young folk

Inside this issue:

'Ho! Ho! Ho!' said the great big man with the big white beard sitting on the bench near the sign that says Northwold. 'Do I know this place? 'Course I knows this place, an' Whittington, an' Stoke Ferry an' all roundabout here, too. These places are on my own 'patch', don't you know. Let me tell you.'
His eyes twinkled and his face beamed a great big smile as he began his tale.
'You see, years ago, when I was nothing but a sproggett, that's a little tiny, trainee parcel-wrapper to you, the old Mr Nicholas made us all have special places to take care of. See, he couldn't get round the world all the time by himself. He needed help. So, some of us sproggetts were made to do some of his work. Well, to cut a long story short, I was given this little part of East Anglia. I also had a bit of Egypt and a bit of America and a bit of Honolulu to look after as well, but this was my favourite place.'
What do you mean 'look after'?
'Well, bless my soul, don't you know what that means? I had to go listen at the house of every little 'childer' to see if they was behaving themselves proper like. In the old days it wasn't half a mucky job, too. We had to listen down the smokey, dusty, chimbley flue. Nowadays, of course, we have compooterised listening thingies, just like the doctor puts on your chest to hear if your tummy's got the rumbles - you knows what I mean, don't you?'

Why did you have to check up on them?
'Ah, now here's a thing, it was because we'd got their letters, you see.'
What letters?
'Upon my soul, you don't know very much do you dear! The letters they send out at this time of year to ask for a Christmas present, of course! 'Course in the old days the 'childer' used to write the letter, very carefully mind - no spelling mistakes allowed - and then they'd get a grown-up to put them on the fire. The letter would fly up the chimbley. Up and up it went high into the winter sky. The wind blew it, together with thousands of other letters from 'childers' all over the world, to the great, big, sorting-office in Santaland. Ho! Ho! Ho! You should have seen it. It was a wonderful sight. Like the sky was full of that confetti stuff you throws at the bride when she gets married. 'Cept, of course, the edges were a bit black from the soot in the chimbley. You should have seen all the little elves running about trying to catch them all and getting little black bits of soot all over them. By the end of the day they had sooty noses, sooty ears and sooty bobbles on their hats and they kept sneezin' 'cos the soot kept getting up their noses. We sproggetts did laugh. Ho! Ho! Ho!'
Does that still happen now?
'Bless you, no, not quite so much. Well, you see, we've gone all modern now. Some 'childers' do

still send their letters by chimbley, but others send them by red post boxes and even by e-mail, so I've heard. All very clever stuff, too. Yes, anytime from November 25th the letters start arriving - thousands and thousands of them. An' everyone of them is read and sorted - and checked upon.' 
So that's why you're here now?
'That's right. Any time after the beginning of December, just about when the Village Life gets put through the letter-box, I start doing my rounds of listening.'
What kind of thing do you hear?
'Well, sometimes I hear 'childers' being very good and reading books and playing with their old toys. Sometimes they sit quietly and watch that box full of pictures called a 'belly', or a 'smelly', or a 'telly' that they all do have in the corner of the room. At other times, they do race around the house shouting strange words like 'Hogwarts' and 'Dumbledore', 'Quidditch' and 'Muggles'. I heard one boy called Joseph telling his sister Abbie about a 'BFG' - whatever that was. It's all good fun and just